2011 NFL PlayoffsDownload App

NFL Playoff Picture: Mapping Out Playoff Matchups and Schedule

Kraig LundbergAnalyst IIIJune 9, 2016

NFL Playoff Picture: Mapping Out Playoff Matchups and Schedule

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    The 2011 NFL playoffs draw near, and games are heating up as a handful of teams are jockeying for position in the postseason.

    With three weeks left in the regular season, teams like the Jets, Broncos, Raiders, Bengals, Chargers, Giants, Cardinals and more are all trying to squeak in with some help, and teams like the Ravens, Steelers, Packers, Saints, 49ers and Texans continue to fight for home-field advantage.

    Here's a look at how the playoffs might pan out.

AFC Wild Card: 3) New England Patriots vs. 6) New York Jets

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    January 7th, 2012

    Even though the New England Patriots beat the Denver Broncos today, they still have a divisional matchup against a tough Dolphins squad. I say the Pats finish 12-4, which I believe will put them behind the Ravens and the Texans.

    Meanwhile, the New York Jets have the best chance of anyone in the AFC to grab that last wild-card spot.

    The Patriots swept the Jets this year, but a third matchup would be interesting given the fact that New England has had some trouble with the Colts and the Redskins in the past couple of weeks while the Jets have been heating up.

    At the end of  the day, I'll go with the veterans in Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.


    Winner: Patriots

NFC Wild Card: 4) Dallas Cowboys vs. 5) Atlanta Falcons

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    January 7th, 2012

    At 9-5, the Falcons are in line to finish 10-6 and grab the first wild-card spot. The Cowboys got a gift from the New York Giants, who lost to the Washington Redskins, and are still in line to win the division.

    A game between the Falcons and Cowboys would be very interesting, because both teams are supremely talented but have exhibited a degree of disappointment at times this year.

    There will likely be plenty of offensive fireworks in this game, mainly through the air, but the Falcons look like the better team.


    Winner: Falcons

AFC Wild Card: 4) Denver Broncos vs. 5) Pittsburgh Steelers

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    January 8th, 2012

    A while back, I picked the Steelers to win this division, but at this point, the Ravens have the better shot. If both teams win out (which would require the Steelers to beat a tough San Francisco team Monday), the Ravens would win the tiebreaker.

    The Broncos could still end up losing the division to the Raiders, but they currently hold the edge with a one-game lead and an easier final two games.

    It would be a great story to see the Broncos get into the playoffs, but getting a matchup with the Steelers in the first game is a tough break.

    Stranger things have happened in the playoffs, but it's hard to see Denver beating Pittsburgh.


    Winner: Steelers

NFC Wild Card: 3) San Francisco 49ers vs. 6) Detroit Lions

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    January 8th, 2012

    The Detroit Lions got a big break today when the New York Giants lost to the Washington Redskins, paving the way for Dallas to win that division, which in turn gives the Lions a leg up in the wild-card race.

    The Giants will have to win their final two games to have a shot, while the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks have to play each other at the end of the year. Therefore, the Lions are in the best position for that final wild-card spot.

    The San Francisco 49ers, who are 10-3 on the season, still have a couple of tough games left on the schedule. I think they will lose one of them, which should put them behind the Packers and the Saints.

    The Lions started the season with five straight wins, but their first loss came to the San Francisco 49ers. A rematch in the playoffs would be very interesting given the nature of the exchange between the teams' coaches at the end of the first game.

    However, the Lions are not the same team they were earlier in the season.


    Winner: 49ers

AFC Divisional Round: 1) Baltimore Ravens vs. 3) New England Patriots

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    January 14th, 2012

    If the Baltimore Ravens win out, and I think they will, they should hold the top seed in the AFC.

    In this game, Baltimore's dominant defense matches up with New England's high-flying offense. Terrell Suggs and the Ravens' pass rush would have a lot to say about how that game would play out.

    Their offense, led by Ray Rice, would be able to move the ball against a suspect Patriots defense.


    Winner: Ravens 

NFC Divisional Round: 2) New Orleans Saints vs. 5) Atlanta Falcons

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    January 14th, 2012

    The New Orleans Saints are on a tear right now, and that's why I see them finishing 13-3.

    If the Falcons and the Saints meet in the playoffs, it will be the third time they meet this season.

    The Saints won the first game, and I'm projecting them to beat the Falcons again, but what about the third time?

    The Saints are playing like they can't be stopped right now, and I don't see the Falcons doing enough to beat them, even with a third try.


    Winner: Saints

AFC Divisional Round: 2) Houston Texans vs. 5) Pittsburgh Steelers

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    January 15th, 2012

    The Texans' playoff position slipped with their loss to the Carolina Panthers, but with games against the Titans and the Colts left, they still have a great shot to take the second seed.

    This rematch between the Texans and the Steelers would be very interesting, because a different quarterback will be behind center for the Texans. I would expect Pittsburgh to be favored in this game, but the Texans beat the Steelers with the running game once already.

    Who says they couldn't do it again, even with a rookie behind center?


    Winner: Texans

NFC Divsional Round: 1) Green Bay Packers vs. 3) San Francisco 49ers

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    January 15th, 2012

    The Packers got beat for the first time in 364 days by the Kansas City Chiefs, but they're still a lock for the first seed since the Saints already have three losses and the Packers hold the tiebreaker.

    This game might be the one of the most interesting of the whole playoffs outside of the Super Bowl, as it would pit the top scoring offense against the top scoring defense. An unstoppable force against an immovable object.

    However, the 49ers' defensive weakness happens to be the Packers' offensive strength, and it's a tough task to stop Aaron Rodgers and that passing attack anyway.

    I doubt the 'Niners would be able to outscore them.


    Winner: Packers

AFC Championship: 1) Baltimore Ravens vs. 2) Houston Texans

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    January 22nd, 2012

    I like the Ravens and the Texans to meet in the AFC championship, and you know this will be a physical slugfest.

    Baltimore's defense, led by Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, is one of the most confident and ferocious units in the league, but the Texans have allowed fewer yards than anyone all year.

    Both teams employ a strong running game. Ray Rice and Arian Foster are both Pro Bowl contenders, and each has a solid backup.

    The difference will be at quarterback. Baltimore's Joe Flacco has plenty of playoff experience, while Houston rookie TJ Yates will be put in a very tough situation to win, especially against that defense.


    Winner: Ravens

NFC Championship: 1) Green Bay Packers vs. 2) New Orleans Saints

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    January 22nd, 2012

    Can you say shootout?

    If both the Packers and the Saints advance this far, I wouldn't be surprised to see 80 points scored in this highly anticipated rematch. Aaron Rodgers vs. Drew Brees would be just one of the many attractive storylines.

    The Packers certainly know how to win, but like I said before, the Saints have been on a tear lately. I have a hunch they go all the way to the Super Bowl this year.


    Winner: Saints

Super Bowl XLVI: 1) Baltimore Ravens vs. 2) New Orleans Saints

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    February 5th, 2012

    A Super Bowl matchup between the Ravens and the Saints would be a fantastic end to an exciting 2011 season.

    Both teams have been unstoppable lately. Nobody wants to play the Ravens' defense, but the Saints might have the most balanced offense in the NFL.

    The Ravens aren't without scoring ability on offense either, however, and the Saints aren't known for being stingy defensively.

    The Ravens win a tough one and are crowned Super Bowl Champions.


    SUPER BOWL CHAMPS: Baltimore Ravens

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